It's very easy to see the appeal of the 9-megapixel Canon PowerShot SX110 IS. At around £180, it's a reasonably priced, relatively compact megazoom camera that offers features for casual and seasoned users alike. It also takes great photos for its class. However, as a replacement for the , it's a disappointment: Canon hasn't addressed any of the problems we raised with that model, and some aspects of performance have even become worse.
One of the SX110's biggest attractions is its compact size for a megazoom. Weighing 295g, it measures 4.4 by 2.8 by 1.8 inches and will fit comfortably into a jacket pocket or uncomfortably into a jeans pocket. The optically stabilised 10x f2.8-4.3 36-360mm zoom lens is responsible for most of the weight. Although slightly smaller than the SX100, the SX110 is large enough to hold securely, but its grip is shallow and the body is slippery.
Encased in plastic, the SX110, nevertheless, feels solid and sturdy. A door on the bottom covers an SDHC card slot and battery compartment. While most AA-powered megazooms use four batteries, the SX110 is powered by only two, and battery life feels relatively short. You'll certainly want to pick up some rechargeable NiMH batteries.
With the 76mm (3-inch) screen now 13mm larger than the SX100's, the PictBridge, face-detection, display and menu buttons that were once below the LCD have been shuffled around slightly. The face-detection, display and menu buttons join the dedicated exposure-compensation button above and below the navigational scroll wheel, instead of below the LCD. This actually works better, since it puts everything under your thumb.
The wheel surrounds a 'func' button and has top, bottom, left and right pressure points for ISO sensitivity, focus (manual and macro), flash and drive mode -- unfortunately, its responsiveness means it's all too easy to change settings accidentally. The PictBridge button is now relegated to the far left corner above the screen, while a playback button sits between the right side of the LCD and the slight indent of a thumb rest.
Since the release of the SX100, many megazoom cameras have expanded to a full complement of manual and semi-manual exposure modes, flash and exposure compensation, and metering modes, so it's no surprise that the SX110 is still fully stocked in that department. There's also the de rigueur handful of scene modes, plus a decent face-detection mode that lets you scroll through found faces to select one. It still takes longer to use than simply picking a face and focusing on it, however.
Compared to the competition, with the SX100 you forgo an electronic viewfinder, support for add-on lenses and a hot shoe, although we doubt many potential users would really miss any of them. More irritating is the underdeveloped movie capture. While other manufacturers are at least attempting to improve video capabilities, the SX110 supports only 30 frames per second VGA, without optical zoom and only mono sound.
Though the SX110 gets decent marks overall for speed, it does have some border-line performance issues that earn it negative points. It wakes and shoots in 2.3 seconds, which is typical of megazooms. Its shutter lag for high- and low-contrast scenes -- 0.5 seconds and 0.7 seconds, respectively -- are typical for this class, too. However, shot-to-shot times are noticeably slow, at 2.1 seconds without flash, and jump to 5.1 seconds once you enable the flash. Burst shooting is better, running at 1.3fps. Finally, the LCD is good, but not terrific, and not always easy to see in bright sunlight.
What the camera sacrifices in speed, however, it makes up for in photo quality, even at higher ISOs. Noise starts to show at ISO 400, and photos have a mottled look at ISO 800, but loss of detail is relatively minimal.